When we hear dialogue about the problem of domestic violence, the focus is usually on the human victims, as it well should be. But an often overlooked secondary casualty is the pet that is also living in a volatile environment. When the situation at home reaches critical mass and the abused has to seek safety in a shelter, pets are not allowed to come along. So what happens to them when their owners are not able to take care of them?
Founded four years ago, The Safe Haven Network provides temporary emergency boarding for the pets of domestic violence victims. Using an online portal that will launch at SHN’s inaugural benefit reception on October 16th, domestic violence advocates will be able to connect with animal shelters to find safe places for the pets until their owners are stable and ready to take care of them again. A truly frightening statistic on the SHN website attributed to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states that 71 percent of pet-owning domestic violence victims reported that their batterers had injured, maimed, threatened or killed the family pet. The group also reports that many women are reluctant to leave an abusive situation for fear of what will happen to their pets when they leave. More than 50 percent of women leave their pets with their abuser when they seek safety in a shelter.
The Safe Haven Network is the brainchild of Jessica Katz. Trained as an attorney, Katz was awaiting the results of her bar exam when she decided to launch the nonprofit. She passed the exam, but took a job as an administrative assistant in order to have the time to dedicate to The Safe Haven Network as Executive Director.
In addition to the benefit event, The Safe Haven Network is holding a supply drive throughout the month of October (National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month). The drive will collect donations for their community partners at domestic abuse shelters in and around the city.